No. 116 Bill Dahlen (Number 13 Shortstop)


Until I wrote this article, I was surprised Dahlen wasn’t a hall of famer. He is the kind of player who fits the bill great on defense at a key position and solid on offense. However, looking at his actual stats I saw while his fielding was very good his hitting was average in the 20th Century. However, Dahlen was in his 30s at the time. In his 20s and 1890s he had two outstanding hitting years and was above average every year with one exception. I’m guessing he was hurt that year. He won an RBI title, but Baseball Reference has him as an average hitter that year. So, his teammates helped him do that. However, an average hitter for a good fielding shortstop helps a team win.

Starting in 1900 he never hit above .270 again, thus lowering his lifetime average to .272. He hit .300 three times but was done with that by the age 26. His strongest assist was his WAR total, so again he was a good all-around player.

I then read his SABR biography. Bill did have a temper. He was thrown out of 65 games in his career. After the 1898 season Dahlin went on a hunting trip with a couple of friends. The three were arrested for killing a farmer’s mule. This must have been quite a controversy as Dahlen said that the Cubs soon had him on the trading block. Team President Jim Hart question if Dahlen was putting forth an honest effort. In January 1899 he was traded to Baltimore. If elected they should put Hart’s quotes on his plaque.
Dahlen also divorced his first wife in 1901 with accusations of domestic violence. That is what the hall of fame needs to put a man in the hall of fame associated with domestic violence. It wouldn’t be the best move these days. Meanwhile the Brooklyn Daily Eagle said Dahlen didn’t care if he broke the rules which caused problems for the team.

Meanwhile there is another article on SABR on whether modern day metrics (partically WAR). It is called “Will Sabermetrics Tilt the Scale on Deadball Era Players Entering the Hall of Fame:


The article was written by John McMurry and brings up a lot of interesting points. One of the other players the article talks about is Sherry Magee who I ranked 169th. I will talk about him in his article later this year. Bill Deane and a senior researcher for the Baseball Library says that modern methodology gives Dahlen a lot of credit on defense. However, Dahlen wasn’t that impressive to his peers. He also mentions how defense is complicated and that makes it difficult to put complete reliance on the calculations. He said both evaluation by peers and current calculations should be weighed. I believe that is a very good point. There is a good chance I have Dahlen rated too high. Bill James had him rated 21st in his latest Historical Abstract.

I will keep the rating, but I wouldn’t want to push him for the hall of fame.

2 thoughts on “No. 116 Bill Dahlen (Number 13 Shortstop)

  1. People didn’t look that great in old photos as they look to serious. I was surprised about his demeanor as I knew nothing about him. I was wondering why he wasn’t in the hall of fame as he is the type of player the hall of fame likes a good fielder and a solid hitter in a key defensive position. However, the more I read about him the more I understood why he wasn’t in the hall of fame.

  2. First time I’ve ever seen a picture of Bill Dahlen. Strangely enough, it affects both my image of him and my opinion of his play. Negatively. A poor way to judge a ballplayer, I agree.

    What you have written about his…demeanor…doesn’t help, either. I like to be left alone to do my job, you see. And it is my experience in life that hot-headed, combative types always want you to embrace their agendas or else become one of the objects of their displeasure.

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